If you live in the Sunflower State and are currently — or soon will be — eligible for Medicare, you’re probably wondering what your options are.
Medicare is a national insurance program for those age 65 and older and people of any age who have certain disabilities. While the federal government runs Medicare, you have the option to purchase certain Medicare plans from private insurance companies in your state.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported the following information on Medicare trends in Kansas for the 2021 plan year:
- A total of 545,781 residents of Kansas are enrolled in Medicare.
- The average Medicare Advantage monthly premium decreased in Kansas compared to last year — from $12.36 in 2020 to $10.46 in 2021.
- There are 79 Medicare Advantage plans available in Kansas for 2021, compared to 69 plans in 2020.
- All Kansas residents with Medicare have access to buy a Medicare Advantage plan, including plans with $0 premiums.
- There are 12 different Medigap plans offered in Kansas for 2021.
Parts A and B make up original Medicare. Part C, Part D, and Medigap are optional plans sold by private insurance companies. Let’s take a closer look at each of these parts of Medicare.
- Medicare Part A is hospital insurance. It covers inpatient services you might receive while admitted to a hospital or for a limited time at a skilled nursing facility. It also covers hospice care and some limited in-home healthcare services.
- Medicare Part B is for outpatient care. It covers the services you receive at the doctor’s office, other outpatient care, and medical supplies.
While original Medicare covers a significant portion of health care expenses, there’s a lot it doesn’t cover. Original Medicare doesn’t include coverage for prescription drugs, nor any dental, vision, or hearing care. These costs can add up, especially if you frequently seek health care or have one or more chronic conditions. Fortunately, there are other types of plans that can help cover these services.
Medicare Advantage in Kansas
Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans in Kansas cover all of the same benefits as original Medicare and more. They usually include prescription drug benefits and may also include coverage for vision, dental, hearing services, and more.
Medicare Advantage plans can fully replace original Medicare. You purchase one from a private insurance company. While plans must meet certain criteria, individual plan designs vary, just like with any private insurance.
Medicare carriers in Kansas include the following private insurance companies:
- Aetna Medicare
- Ascension Complete
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas
- Blue Medicare Advantage
- Lasso Healthcare
It’s important to note that not all of these plans are available in every county of Kansas. Plan availability varies depending on your ZIP code.
Medicare supplement plans in Kansas
Medicare supplement insurance (Medigap) can help cover the out-of-pocket costs that original Medicare doesn’t cover. These plans are available through private companies to add to your original Medicare coverage.
Many companies offer Medigap plans in Kansas. In 2021, some of the companies offering Medigap plans throughout the state include:
You’re eligible to enroll in Medicare in Kansas if you:
- are age 65 or older
- are any age and have a qualifying disability
- have end stage renal disease (ESRD)
- have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
If you receive Social Security, Railroad Retirement Board, or disability benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in parts A and B when you turn age 65. Otherwise, you must follow the enrollment process.
When can I enroll in Medicare Kansas plans?
Your initial Medicare enrollment period begins 3 months before your 65th birthday and lasts for 3 months after. In most cases, it makes sense to at least enroll in Part A at this time, since there’s usually not a premium.
IMPORTANT MEDICARE DEADLINES
In addition to your initial enrollment period, there are also also other times you can enroll in Medicare including:
- General enrollment: January 1–March 31. You may enroll in a Medicare plan or Medicare Advantage plan.
- Open enrollment: October 15–December 7. You may enroll in, drop out of, or change your part C or Part D plan during the annual open enrollment period.
- Special enrollment. Under special circumstances, you may qualify for a special enrollment period of 8 months.
If you or your spouse continues working, you can continue coverage under your employer-sponsored group health plan for as long as you like. In these cases, you’ll be eligible for a special enrollment period later on.
Tips for enrolling in Medicare plans in Kansas
Here are some tips to keep in mind when shopping for Medicare plans in Kansas:
- Medicare Advantage plan designs vary. Some are Health Maintenance organizations (HMOs), which require you to choose a primary care physician who oversees your care. Others are Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans, which don’t require referrals for in-network specialty care.
- Consider the network. Different plans have different networks. You’ll want to choose one that includes doctors and hospitals near you, as well as preferred providers you may already have a relationship with.
- Review the cost structure. How expensive are the premiums? And how much should you expect to pay out of pocket when you receive care?
- If you’re married, does your spouse qualify for Medicare? Medicare plans are individual so you can’t sign someone on as a dependent. If one of you isn’t yet eligible for enrollment, you may need to consider other coverage options.
These resources can help you learn more about your Kansas Medicare options:
- Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. Visit the website or call 800-860-5260.
- Medicare website
- Social Security Administration website
Ready to take the next steps toward your MedicareKansas enrollment?
- More than half a million Kansas residents are enrolled in Medicare.
- There are several private insurance companies offering various types of Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans throughout the state.
- Overall, monthly premium costs have decreased for 2021 Medicare Advantage plans in Kansas.
- There are also several Medigap plan options if you live in Kansas and are looking for additional coverage.